St. Petersburg Country Club, homebuilder Taylor Morrison withdraw plan for major development in Lakewood Estates

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In the face of growing opposition to a plan to build 115 townhomes proposed for a swath of land near the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, the St. Petersburg Country Club (SPCC) and homebuilder Taylor Morrison have withdrawn an application with the City of St. Petersburg to move forward with the project.

In a letter to Dave Goodwin in the city’s Economic Development department, Mike Kiernan, the president of the SPCC, reiterated his belief that the controversial project would have a positive impact for the Lakewood neighborhood and the long-term future of the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. However, in response to a request for clarification on several technical aspects of the project, Kiernan wrote, “(We have decided to withdraw the June 28, 2013 application.”

The plan called for the townhouses to be built on eight acres along the first three holes of the golf course facing the nature preserve.

Katherine Snow Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reported in late June that representatives from SPCC and Taylor Morrison met with 60 Lakewood homeowners and fielded “many heated questions and complaints for more than 90 minutes.”

Josh Gregoire bought his house on Fairway Avenue a year ago because it looked over the golf course to the preserve.

“I paid for that view. Now I’m going to have to look at the backs of these houses. I’m not going to benefit from this,” he said.

Longtime resident Paul Lambert doesn’t live adjacent to the proposed homes, but he is worried about living near a construction zone.

“Isn’t our view going to be degraded? I’m going to see this mess coming down the road for five to six years. I don’t see how that’s going to improve our property values, or our view or the environment,” he said.

St. Petersburg Country Club president Mike Kiernan started the meeting by saying the club didn’t want to sell land but needed to for financial reasons.

Smith also reported that at an earlier meeting with the Friends of Boyd Hill, the group unanimously voted against the development. Environmental consultant George Heinrich said the increased traffic and noise would hurt three already vulnerable inhabitants of the preserve: the gopher tortoise, eastern indigo snake and fox squirrel.

For now it would appear the neighborhood organization and Friends of Boyd Hill have won the day, but this may not be the last redevelopment proposal heard from St. Petersburg Country Club. 

“We are planning to review the technical suggestions, continue our engagement with the Lakewood Estates neighborhood and listen closely to the Friends of Boyd Hill,” Kiernan writes in his letter. “Once this process has been completed, we will contact you in regards to our next steps.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.